Britta's Letters from (and sometimes about) Berlin

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Blush... it's so becoming...

Britta Huegel

Dear You, 
Not so easy to blush nowadays, at least I don't.
But you could see deep crimson creep about my face in the underground, when my cellphone started to ring. More precise: it started to moan. To be even more exact: it used Irene Adler's 'Sexy Moan' from the wonderful 'Sherlock' episode "A Scandal In Belgravia'. (Have to see crime TV for professional reasons - but 'Sherlock' is a treat).
How come?
Well - sheer stubbornness on my side. For a long time, I had Sherlock's Intro as a ringtone:

Then I asked son please to instal Irene's Moan for an incoming SMS. He loaded it down on my cellphone - but it didn't work. Suspecting that he didn't really try (for what reason ever :), I went to the O2-Shop. The young man was very eager  attentive, but he could not help me either. 
So I forgot about it. 
Three days ago I scrolled through my cellphone - to become more able in the use of technology - 'I will conquer it', I thought. Well, I did - in a way. Set Irene's moan as ringtone.  
The thing is: of course I wanted to change back. Pressed the right button, pressed OK. 
Irene moans on. And on... 
I blush. 
Advice: If a woman of a certain age complains that she gets invisible, she should load down Irene as a ringtone. In any old crowded underground she will stand in the spotlight. Instantly.   

PS: the photo above I took in Potsdam's Park Sanssouci. 

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Missing... Sylt?

Britta Huegel

Dear You, 
sometimes you miss something without knowing what it is. You have a nagging feeling. You look. Think. You wonder. 
"I think they are gone!" I said to husband. 
"Who?" he asked. 
"The swallows!
"Oh, no!
Well, swallows are the very epitome of summer. In England and Germany we have the same saying: "One swallow does not make a summer / Eine Schwalbe macht noch keinen Sommer.
I had seen hordes of them three weeks before - assembling. Practising. Didn't like that. And was accused to resemble poor Cassandra, not my normal self. I soon kept my observations to myself. Talked about sunshine and heat. Peeked only from the corner of my eye. Saw what I saw. Kept my mouth shut. (Pressed it firmly - but only for a while: that encourages wrinkles, so I lifted the corners of my mouth again - pure self-protection). 
And there was something missing on Sylt, too
("Finally", you sigh. "Now you start telling me of your holiday.") 
We left the island one day earlier than planned (and paid for). 
I have been to Sylt quite often. Met my first real great love there (he was training as combat medic in the Bundeswehr - at that time every young man had to do his military service). My mother and an aunt and my sister spent their hols with me on the campsite (my father had to work). On one photo you see me smoking triumphantly a Reval cigarette - that smell would be the base note of my perfume creation "Sylt". (I don't miss cigarettes anymore - but if someone goes in front of me, smoking Reval or Gauloises or another strong tobacco, my eyes start to get a bit dreamy). 
Then I would add the incomparable scent of the rugosa rose. Living happily in a mismatched colour outfit: shocking pink blossoms, fat bright orange rose hips, dark green healthy leaves that smell - like the sweet briars - too. That would be the heart note
And the salty smell of the North Sea water as top note
(Of course I would add a few ingredients of passion that no perfumier worth his salt would ever betray...) 
And that was what I absolutely missed this time, being there, on the very spot: the smell of Sylt. It wasn't there. 
Mind: the rugosa roses bloomed in abundance - and yes, when you bent your knees - and I did -  you could sniff a weak whiff. The heather painted the sand dunes of List in sombre violet hues - and yes, I went down on my knees to get a whiff of the dark honey-golden wooden note (I would add that to my perfume!). 

Britta Huegel

But bended knees aside - and I was not on a pilgrimage on "Search of Lost Time" or on the look-out for "Remembrance of Things Past", honestly, I wasn't: 
it was almost impossible to smell Sylt. (And I still own a very highly developed sense of smell). 
Must be because of the storm (most of the time, throwing teasingly loads of sand into your face). Even husband did only manage to take a swim in the very rough sea once - once in five days... 

Britta Huegel

And because of the location of our rented flat. (I have been many times on Sylt - and it must have had a reason why I never ever had been in Tinnum. (I'd never even heard of it!) I had been in Rantum, Hörnum, Westerland etc - all those villages draped along the shore - meaning sea foam, waves around your feet, salt on your lips, sand between your toes. I even would have accepted mud between my toes - on the mudflat-side of Keitum. But Tinnum lies in the very middle of the island Sylt. See: I love long walks on the beach - it might even storm and rain - but here our fat BMW had to drive us, munching over 300km only on this island in five days.  You can imagine that this woman, proud owner of a Nike+FuelBand, was not utterly happy about that? The airport was very near - all things I could have known in advance - had I been as smart as Son, who confessed on the telephone: "I googled it on Google Earth, Mama - but than I didn't say anything because you had already booked." (I think that is mindful of him). So we had the advantage of a Lidl, an Aldi, a Netto very near - and if you walked over the tracks of the railway you were among harvested cornfields. And wet meadows. 

Britta Huegel

Picturesque in its way, too - but to be true: not my expectation when I think of Sylt. Or any other island. 
Of course we went by car to the cliffs and sand beaches (how, otherwise, would we have 'earned' 300km?)

But the freedom to move on my own, that I have missed. 
And the scent. 

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

'Where Angels Fear To Tread` or: Berlin's Building Sites - Uhrgh!

Britta Huegel

Dear You, 
actually I wanted to write a post about a wonderful discovery I made on Monday - I give you a hint: Italy here, around the corner - but I can't do that now: it is too loud. 
Almost everybody - at least in Germany - knows that Berlin is a permanent building site. They dig up the roads and tunnels, they build new houses, renovate the old ones - and the symbol for all this might be the Airport Schönefeld - a billion-dollar grave, that will not come to an end, and those that are responsible get even more money instead of social condemnation or prison - and the news even reached other countries and they have a good laugh about this play from the madhouse. 
But I can live with that. 
More disturbing - because they are very, very near - is the renovation of a house at the end of our street - can you imagine that they stick on to the facade all the stucco ornaments that a mad city council paid to be destructed in the early decades of the 20th century - to make the buildings more "modern" and easier to paint (I believed that the masses and masses of these 'modern' houses were the sad relicts from World War II, but no: these houses had survived the bombs, and then the city paid (!) for 'modernisation'.  
An example: both houses are built in the same year. 

Britta Huegel

But more awful (for us) is the drainage that 2 (!) building labourers are giving to our neighbour's house (all the houses in the street, though very posh, are joint by a wall). 
The 2 (!) building labours (though I hesitate to use the word "labour") are the typical and perfect impersonators of building labourers. 
They arrive between 6:30 a.m. and 6:45 a.m. 
They turn on their radio. Having often worked with a pneumatic hammer, they are deaf as - a nut. So they need LOUD music - and they SHOUT. Why should other people sleep when they have to work? They discuss this important question before they start to - "work". And because Law allows to start this "work" not before 7 a.m., they use the time before to playfully test their jackhammers - at the wall between the two houses. When the baby of the neighbours starts to cry, they stop and bang on their big big basins - to clean them a bit - better to be done in the morning... more attention... 
But the worst thing are their cellphones. I put "Work" into quotation marks to hint at a certain mistrust on my side: half of the time (at least!) they do not work - after the big overture in the morning they rest for an hour, smoke and shout into their cell phones - (nobody told them that a cellphone is a sort of telephone that enables you to talk with a person at normal pitch - but no, not them -- Shout, Shout, Shout! You might hear them easily at the Alexander Platz). 
By working very slowly they manage to prolong their "work" till doomsday - this wonderful hot summer is definitely spoilt for those who intended to enjoy their balcony (I flee to other beautiful parts of the city, but the old people can't). 
To make it even worse: in our house the landlady has engaged craftsmen to renovate the flat on the groundfloor: wall breakthroughs (we are in Berlin :), floorboard abrasion and varnishing (smell!) and polishing and, and, and - the full monty. 
And when I looked out into the Hinterhof (backyard) I saw another couple of workmen (though they finished after three days). 

Britta Huegel

The rents in Berlin soar, because Arabs and Russians and Italians etc buy houses or flats like mad. Sometimes it is merciful that they see only the "new" flats they buy. Since last year a clever salesman let this house beside the KaDeWe be renovated (I only heard Polish sounds at the building site - I think they are good workers, but often are treated and paid not much better than modern slaves). These flats (of about 110 square meters) cost over 1 million Euros each - but with that goes the privilege to look at really sordid houses on the other side of the street, hear the suppliers for the KaDeWe in the very early morning bring tons of flour or lobsters etc - and look into the "patio" which leads to the car park of the KaDeWe. 
Sometimes it is very good to have not seen your "bargain" before in its original state... 
I'll show you the photos of "before" and "after" in another post. 
Till then we'll book a holiday on an island... I think we'll give up... 

Britta Huegel

Friday, 1 August 2014

Too good to be true?

Britta Huegel photographs Karl Lagerfeld's photo
Dear You,
in the comments on my last post "The Marvelous Toy - my Nike+ FuelBand" I said that I would to discuss Susan Scheid's comment - she writes

Now this is definitely a life lesson for all of us: "Now I lowered the goal for a third, reach it every time, am happy - and march on, thus reaching the former high goal of the past almost every time - but with the smug self-satisfaction of thinking: I hadn't to do this."

 and Suze's, who writes
After reading Susan's comment, I would like to add that a goal which does not evolve is a static thing which loses all relevance. We must reach for goals appropriate to the moment--dynamic, meaning-intense, real.

Ha - I was so proud to have found out my new life insight about happiness through knowing where to stop... and I still think it valid - in the context I put it.
See, Suze: I wrote that I outperform the absolute intersection of all Nike+ FuelBand users - all of them, being young or old, being amateurs or pros, international - by far. Why shall I highten my goal even more? As I wrote: when I reach my lower goal points, I am happy, not stressed - and march on, voluntarily. (Most of the time).
The same in weight training: I can push quite a lot of iron at the rowing machine - and many a man at the other machine besides me get a bit pale after a look at mine, because he draws less. Should I evolve that goal even more? Is my name Tamara Press (or, for the younger ones among you: Swetlana Podobedowa)?
No - I think: goals are good, goals are helpful - but they must not be infinite - because that would discourage me.
If a goal is too high, it will make me dispirited: if I compare myself to our great poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, I would not even losen the cap of my fountain pen to write a book. Of course I understand what you mean, Suze: one should not rest on one's laurels - right - but I think the way to hell is plastered with perfectionism. I know that you - of all people - didn't mean "more, more, more" - but in this direction lies the danger. When is good good enough? 
As I wrote: I thrive on praise. Maybe that's a fault - but one I learned to live with and do not even try to change - and I hope I can - as children, who have a very fine ear for it - distinguish between real praise and flattery.
And insight no. 2: it is worthwhile to praise yourself (you can do it silently): "That's good! Wow!"
I makes you glow! From the inside! 

Sunday, 27 July 2014

The Marvelous Toy - my Nike+ FuelBand

Britta Huegel

Dear You, 
we are still melting away in Berlin - on our balcony we had 38°C yesterday, and in the evening we are all happy to manage just to reach the Viktoria-Luise-Platz (two streets further) if necessary on all fours and order a cool Weißbier and look at the beautiful fountain of this "Adornment Place", as the creator of the Bavarian Quarter called the many little places with fountains, greens and benches created at 1900 for the benefit of the brave bourjeois.
But lifting the tall beer-glass is not enough to stay fit!
Yours Truly - always easily in love with a new technical gimmick - possesses the Nike + Fuel band for about 5 months now. Enough time to find out that it is
- inaccurate (when I wear a tote bag in my right hand and wear the Fuel band on my right wrist - it doesn't count my steps correctly, it counts less)
- more than inaccurate - downright lying! and frivolous superficial: when I am pushing heavy weights at the fitness studio, I get less points than I get for preparing breakfast
- competitive (well, that I might be too) - it tells you in the evening, when you connect it with your computer how well you managed in relation to your age-group (I am much better!) and in relation to all Nike + Fuel Band users (among them the 17 year old sport addicts - guess: I am much better!). These points are absolute numbers, not influenced by your age.
- In my defence I can offer: except this one time I don't boast about it. Really - I don't. Neither do I post my sensational points on Facebook (and bore you stiff) nor on Google + (and bore you stiff). Yes, one can do that, but I don't.
If this little gadget has so many faults - and a pedometer would do the trick as well - why do I love it?
Well - in the beginning husband was very surprised to hear me chirp: "No, you don't have to go to the grocer's - I'll do it!" and woosh I was away - I still needed 176 points to reach my "GOAL! GOAL! GOAL!" Very untypical for me, I even offered to bring down the garbage! (He got a bit anxious then).
   The garbage is his task again... BUT: my psyche is constructed in such a simple way that it helps to look at my fuel band to make me walk and move more. And that is a good thing, simple or not. This Lady thrives on praise - and that it gives frequently. Sometimes a bit - hilariously: I'll never forget when my orthopaedist told me I should rest my knee (later my ankle - both well again, thank you) - and just at this moment the Fuel band blinked in big letters: "GO, BRITTA, GO!" (It won).
Ah - and I even learned something for 'Life as Such':
when I first put my GOAL! GOAL! GOAL!!! very high, I reached it every time, but with gritted teeth. Now I lowered the goal for a third, reach it every time, am happy - and march on, thus reaching the former high goal of the past almost every time - but with the smug self-satisfaction of thinking: I hadn't to do this.
And that's a good thing to learn for other aims in my life too.  

Sunday, 20 July 2014

"Cocoon above! Cocoon below!"

Britta Huegel

Dear You, 
I am a bit suspicious by now. Don't trust myself. Or know myself all too well... which might be the same thing, in the end. 
Meaning: Look at those few posts in the July, (few?!? - I'm fooling myself: only one!), dribbling like tired water from an old hose. I know: we have July - it is hot - very hot in Berlin at the moment, they foretold us 36°C... I love it, but it doesn't turn me into a Mexican jumping-bean... 
A lot of other bloggers seem to be a bit under the weather too. To check myself out I looked at my old blog, "You are witty and pretty". A lot of the dear followers there - of course all bloggers too - have thrown in the towel. Some changed their blog-address. And I want to find out when I gave up my blog - aha: December 2012, BUT - it started much earlier, the retreat - about August, I would say. (Why does Edna O'Brians title "August is a Wicked Month" springs into my mind?). 
I changed my blog after two years - regretted it, because I had more followers then - and hope I have learned from history (hahaha, every historian gives a hearty laugh). Change isn't the answer (that will always happen without my doing). Concentration might be. 
(In this heat? You bet...) 
What do I want to tell you? I am utterly clear in my German blog about cafés and culture in Berlin; quite clear in my blog "Britta's Happiness of the Day" (; also clear but - reduced to a balcony instead of a garden - a bit restrained on "Gardening in High Heels"( - but here? 
A little dab of culture, a little dot of everyday life, a whiff of this, a tattle of that. 
But still I think I won't do what I did yesterday (at last!): I planted a new rose on my balcony, "Augusta Luise", beautifully scented, adorable apricot, wonderful form. I brought her "successor till yesterday, Augusta Luise I." from my garden in Hamburg to the balcony in Berlin; she flowered in the first year, mumbled in the second - then was cautioned by me in the third and fourth year (when she didn't produce one single blossom) - and then I cut a long story short, or, as we say in Germany: "He that will not hear must feel" (come to think of it: that saying dates me - nobody seems to even understand the meaning of it anymore today - but that might be a good thing, too). But poor Augusta Luise I. was banned into the Hinterhof - and I bought a successor, "Augusta Luise II.". (And I do hope that "Getrude Jekyll", "New Dawn", "Iceberg", "Hans Gönnewein" and the other two are willing to draw their lessons from that!)  
And decide languidly: I will stay with this blog. It is much too hot to change it now. 

(fickle and a bit vague as the photo above). 

PS: Just to give you at least something of substance: 

Cocoon above! Cocoon below!
Stealthy Cocoon, why hide you so
What all the world suspect?
An hour, and gay on every tree
Your secret, perched in ecstasy
Defies imprisonment!

An hour in Chrysalis to pass,
Then gay above receding grass
A Butterfly to go!
A moment to interrogate,
Then wiser than a "Surrogate,"
The Universe to know! 
Emily Dickinson 

Sunday, 6 July 2014


Britta Huegel

Dear You, 
I feel a bit like the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland, muttering "Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!" - being head over heels in work, being rude in not commenting on your blogs (though I read them!) - but having time to apply for Sir Paul's Band "The Hawkmoths" (I confess: the photograph of me above that I sent him is not utterly new) - look at - 
and I was chosen! My heart races - and I am so glad that Rosemary from is there too!! 
We play in the West End in London - virtual of course, the Mothettes fluttering around the Hawkmoth Sir Paul - the contrast of our leather outfits (yes - think: Suzie Quatro, Gianna Nannini or Tina Turner) to his tophat and white silk scarf will be ravishing. 
Makes me think back of my real tour through Germany - long time ago, where we were modeling and danced for a big fashion company through Germany's big cities. Yes - Yours Truly danced here in the Kongreßhalle in Berlin (now it is called: "House of the Cultures): 

and in Hamburg, and Frankfurt, and Hannover, and Munich, and, and... 
It was such a fun! (for us - we were students and could go back to our studies - the real models and dressmen and dancers faced a harder life). I could tell you 1001 stories from that tour - but: "Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!

PS: One thing I have to work out in my soul: 
I always held it with Marlene Dietrich's song - you might know it: "I am from head to toe centered on love" 

where she sings: 
                            "Men flutter around me 
                              like moths around the (candle)light, 
                              and if they are consumed by fire - 
                              well, that's not my fault!" 

BUT now - as a MOTHETTE - which fate is awaiting me???